Young climate change advocates – Eco-Warriors – came together to discuss climate justice, hosted by Programme for People for Planet at the Expo 2020 Dubai. Showcasing their role in climate justice through community projects and activism.
Elizabeth is a climate youth activist from Kenya and Founder of Greengeneration Initiative that seeks to incorporate key environmental thematic focus areas such as; forestry, wildlife, water, waste management, climate change, and food into a practical eco-projects demonstration corner within school compounds. Planting over 30,000 trees to offset carbon in Kenya. Her main message to world leaders is that they should act upon climate promises and solutions to mitigate climate change mainly in the countries most affected, like Kenya.
It was a proud moment to meet a Kenyan youth on the podium of Programme for People for Planet, advocating for climate justice in Kenya.
Clover Hogan, a phenomenal Eco Warrior from Australia, and Founder of Force of Nature, introduced herself with a short history on how she became an environmentalist at age 11 after watching alarming climate change documentaries; Force of Nature is a student network in 50+ countries mobilizing mindsets for climate action. Moving to Indonesia to work with grassroots communities, studying in Green School and creating her initiative, Force of Nature. She mentioned that COP26 won’t be a first event she will be attending. Stating her bad experience at COP21 in Paris where she met global climate leaders who disappointed her with their green washing empty promises and solutions without immediate action, causing eco-phobia; anxiety and frustration feeling powerless in the face of environmental change. Same was the case with previous sustainability conferences sponsored by climate polluters like Coca-Cola, BMW and Shell. “It felt like a conference of lung cancer sponsored by Philip Morris.”
I totally concur with Clover’s statement. This picture depicts the above sentiments clearly.
Clover hopes that this year COP26 discussions will be different and action will be taken by global leaders as 17% of young people feel hopeless about the future they’re inheriting, causing anxiety. With a closing remark, “We owe it to ourselves to listen to feelings of humanity and empathy rather than to outrun them.”
Lara Rudar is an 18 year old Climate Activist living in Dubai. She has been working within the environmental movement. Currently the Education Coordinator at Re-Earth Initiative, a youth-led International organisation with the mission to make climate change education accessible to everyone. Lara has also worked locally in the UAE as an Ambassador for Nature to plan and organise environmental events in the country. Lara was among the youths to attend the Youth4Climate PreCOP Summit in Milan. During the conference, she says, almost 400 youth from around the world drafted proposals and demands to present to ministers attending the Pre-COP negotiations. “We expect them to take the demands and solutions we proposed seriously. But we don’t want them to be left as words – we want actions. I hope that they will be discussed at COP26 and that ministers respond to these outcomes. It’s our generation who will be left to deal with the consequences. We are the most important climate policy stakeholders and therefore must be at the heart of climate reforms and negotiation processes. With their actions or inactions, politicians are deciding what our futures will look like. Of course, we want to control our fates – we want this future to be safe and sustainable for all.”
It’s high time youth’s voices are heard by global ‘climate change leaders’ who promise empty solutions.
Sagarika was one of the youngest Eco-worriers I met. At 16 years old, she is making changes by addressing climate challenges in Dubai, and being an inspiration to her peers. Working on educating children and building awareness towards the current climate crisis through her e-platform Kids for a better world kidsforabetterworld . “We provide information as well as involve children in projects like recycling, beach and desert clean ups, marine conservation, etc. My goal is to teach the youth to make sustainable choices. One of the critical problems is human behavior which is influencing the climate and the earth’s temperature. For example; burning fossil fuels, cutting forests, and plastic pollution which contributes to a rise in greenhouse gases. Another issue would be the over exploitation of natural resources. The most polluting emitters and countries must act quickly to limit emissions. Humans cannot afford to be indifferent about climate change.”
Her message to COP26 World Leaders, Sagarika’s goal is to bring everybody on board and have a decisive action plan that all COP 26 members can be held accountable for, since our future depends on it.
Kehkashan from India, Founder of Green Hope Foundation and UN Human Rights Champion. Through her foundation, Kehkashan has worked towards carbon and energy offsetting initiatives, majorly solar power projects in climate change stricken communities, positively impacting more than 50,000 children. Focusing on reducing inequalities through clean energy solutions such as installing solar street lights in climate vulnerable areas in schools that shut down during COVID-19; solar street lights that ensure women and girls reached safely and get education in computer literacy in a circular bio-economy. Including solar powered installation systems to farmers for sustainable farming. “Humanity is empowered to become climate justice leaders within their own communities. We need leaders to support and empower youths especially in communities that are most affected with climate change.”
Nisreen is a climate change youth advocate from Sudan, Chairperson UNSG Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change. Nisreen’s main message to world leaders at COP26 is that they should prioritize on country’s basic needs when offering aid. Africa is largely affected by climate change causing social and economic challenges, affecting basic needs like education, unemployment, poor infrastructure and healthcare.
I couldn’t be more inspired by young people from different parts of the world creating real impact, changing lives and advocating for change.